7 Golani soldiers go AWOL

Senior officer: Some left because of economic hardships, others because they found winter training in the Golan too difficult, calls on them to return to base.

IDF combat soldiers complete a long march as part of their advanced training (photo credit: REUTERS)
IDF combat soldiers complete a long march as part of their advanced training
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Seven Golani soldiers from Battalion 12 went absent without leave (AWOL) from their training base on the Golan Heights in recent days, and a senior officer on Monday from the brigade has called on them to return.
Describing their unauthorized absence as an “isolated incident,” the officer said the seven serve in the same infantry company, and that one of the soldiers also went AWOL two months ago due to economic problems at home.
“These soldiers have decided to go home while hundreds of others in their battalion are training.
Some suffer from economic problems. Others did not want to face winter training, which is tough, starts early in the morning, and takes place in heavy rain, cold, and wind. It’s hard for some. The soldiers did not want to say it’s tough, so some have created other justifications,” the officer said.
A number of the soldiers have raised claims against their company commander, which the officer said were being investigated, but did not appear to be based in reality. “The company commander treated them all equally. This does not signify failures by commanding officers, or at the battalion or military command level,” the officer argued.
In recent days, five of the soldiers returned to base, where their battalion commander tried them and sentenced them to military prison.
Subsequently, the five once again left the base, a development the source described as “very serious.”
“They have unfortunately harmed their company.
I know they tried to encourage some of their friends to join them, but did not succeed, I’m glad to say,” the source added. The other two soldiers have not returned.
“In Golani, we have 500 soldiers with economic problems, some of them severe. We take care of all of the soldiers,” the officer said.
“We will weigh future steps. We will listen to explanations by the soldiers and see if they can be accepted or not,” he added. “The Golani Brigade is preparing for the most important thing and training, and unfortunately, they are sitting at home, talking to the press. I expect them to act like Golani soldiers and return to base, where we will give them a fair hearing,” he added.